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Canon EOS 500D / Rebel T1i DSLR

Review Date: Mar 31, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, image quality and image quality

In two words: exceptional product. I had tried the t2i and t31, but didn't like the output from either one. A friend of mine had recommended the t1i to me as an ideal travel camera for one who normally and regularly shoots full frame. I found one on KEH in great condition and at a great price ($299).

The is by far the best of the Rebel series I've ever worked with, which includes the xsi.

I've just returned from a trip to Washington DC, where I really put the t1i through some paces ... indoors, outdoors, base ISO and up through ISO 1600. I brought only two lenses: the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and Canon's 35mm f/2.

Every pic is a keeper, technically. Every shot was in focus, every shot was clean, every shot had the kind of color and "glow" that often eludes most digital cameras ... a "glow" that cameras like the Fuji S2 Pro and Leica M8/9 cameras are well-known to exhibit.

I agree with the previous posted that you should run, not walk, if you find one of these and you're looking for a lightweight travel body that one reviewer said is 2nd only to Canon's 5D Mark II.

I am super-impressed.

Canon EOS 50D

Review Date: Jan 10, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Resolution of fine detail • Color • Tonality • Build quality • Ease of use • AF speed and accuracy

I purchased the 50D for its higher resolution and better feature set compared to my excellent 40D, which I sold. When I viewed the initial test shots from the 50D, I believed I'd made mistake and thought I should have kept the 40D. The noise, even as low as ISO 400, seemed excessive.

But through trial and error and getting to know the camera a little better, it soon became clear to me that a better understanding of the application and effects of noise reduction on this particular camera's files ... coupled with the 50D's very, very sharp rendering of fine detail ... was absolutely necessary.

Bottom line: the very high lpm resolution allows for introducing the amount of NR necessary without any sacrifice to the detail itself. NR can be introduced as needed even with shots at ISO 3200, then the proper amount of sharpening applied and ... voila! ... a beautiful, detailed, richly drawn image ... provided, of course, a high grade lens was used.

The 50D is an excellent camera if not top-notch. It handles great and is a noticeable step up from the 40D in many ways, not the least of which is IQ. At the price they're going for right now ... early 2012 ... the 50D is a better choice than a lot of the newer cameras out there.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Review Date: Jul 27, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 


I'm posting this very brief review of the Canon 1Ds II to counter the review that precedes it, a review in which the owner states that, IQ-wise, the 1Ds II is NOT a better camera than the 5D.

I own both and use both. I can say without hesitation that the 1Ds II provides a superior file compared to the 5D. The images are richer, fuller, with significantly better micro-contrast and edge definition. Additionally, the auto-focus is vastly quicker and more accurate, which often leads to a better image. The 1Ds II has noticeably wider d/r and, to my eyes, more vibrant color.

The 5D is a wonderful camera. I prefer it to the 5D Mark II. But the 1Ds II is overall a better camera than the 5D and offers far more pliable raw files than the 5D II. The 1Ds II is high on the list of the top DSLRs ever made.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Mar 17, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Image quality • Image quality • Image quality
• None

Compared to the higher resolution, HD video and other bells and whistles of the latest cameras, the Canon 5D seems pretty basic if not bare-bones. It's LCD monitor pales by comparison to the newer ones, and auto-focus can sometimes be troublesome.

But if what you're looking for is a pretty simple high performance camera that does the job at any ISO up to 3200, that gives you a full frame image with all of the benefits of full frame, that has sufficient resolution for printing as large as 20" X 30", that's about as reliable a camera as you'll find anywhere — the Canon 5D Classic is your best option.

I actually sold my original 5D in favor of the 5D II. A few weeks later I sold the 5D II and went back to the 5D Classic. To my eye, those larger photo sites in the original 5D make a difference that I always appreciate.

This is one great camera. That's why it's referred to as the 5D "Classic." At today's prices (March 2011), it's an incredible bargain.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Review Date: Aug 15, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Resolution of fine detail • Dynamic range • Color fidelity • High-to-very-high ISO performance
• Less-than-pro body • Mirror slap • Slow and/or inaccurate focus using the outer focus points

Purely from the standpoints of image quality and noise control, the Canon 5D Mark II is one of the top 5 cameras made today ... at any price. Another user review suggests that it's usable only to ISO 3200. I find it to be excellent all the way to ISO 6400. All in all, this is a masterpiece of a camera. The only real improvements I can think of would be the 1-series shutter and the 7D's build.

Fuji FinePix S2 Pro

Review Date: Mar 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ

Brilliant camera design. Should have tried the Super CCD a long time ago. This is about as close as you can get to a quality film image without shooting film. Build-wise and feature-wise, the S2 seems "old" if not ancient by today's standards. But IQ-wise, it's anything but. And I have great cameras to compare it to, ie 1Ds II and 5D. Best out-of-camera JPEGs you will ever see. Love it.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Feb 26, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Sharpness • Clarity • Ease of handling • Image Stabilization

I will only add the following to what others have said about the remarkable 70-200 f/4L IS:

There is a certainly clarity to the images that isn't quite matched by any of my other Canon lenses. It's as if someone stripped away a slight haze that has existed between my 1Ds II and some of my images.

This lens delivers truly stellar performance. If f/4 is fast enough for you, then have no doubt about the 70-200 f/4L IS.

Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D)

Review Date: Jul 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Picture Quality • Ease of Use • Control Options • Handling • Build • Value

Rather than haul my heavier 5D or Nikon D2x w/lenses, I rented an xsi and a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 for a 3-week vacation that took my wife and I from Seattle, WA to New Jersey.

Having owned a D60, 10D and a 40D previously, I honestly didn't think the xsi would be quite up there in IQ with my 5D or D2x ... but it is. In fact, I just finished a cursory review of the nearly 2,000 images, and they are all far, far better than I ever could have expected from an $800 camera, or even a $1200 camera for that matter.

I'd go so far as to say that the images from the xsi equal or exceed the clarity, detail, color and contrast of my old 1Ds (which I no longer own), including when viewed at 100%. In many ways the xsi is a better camera than the 1Ds. It's much more consistent from shot to shot, has lower noise at ISOs above 800 and, of course, is much lighter and more compact. But more importantly, the images from the xsi have less of that "digital" look than the 1Ds images and often exceed the 5D in their overall naturalness. The performance of this camera at ISO 1600, by the way, is excellent. Using the Tamron 17-50 wide open, I had no trouble whatsoever capturing excellent hand-held low-light indoor shots.

I am impressed with the xsi beyond words and just might end up purchasing one as my permanent travel camera. It feels great, it operates smoothly (although I find some of the button locations to be a little awkward), has enough control flexibility to meet the demands of just about any situation (with perhaps the exception of serious action or sports work), and it's REALLY LIGHT!

A great camera; a real leap forward for the Canon Rebel series.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor

Review Date: May 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • IQ • Price

Truly remarkable.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED DX VR AF-S

Review Date: May 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 


An excellent lens at any price ... an amazing lens at its low price. This lens and the 18-55 VR are my two travel lenses. I take no others.

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR AF-S DX Nikkor

Review Date: May 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Sharpness • Clarity • Contrast • Range • Cost
• None

Unbelievable, even on a Nikon D2x. There's no reason not to own this lens. It may not last as long as the better-built Nikons, but it will give you exceptional results in the meantime. The IQ from this lens really came as a big surprise to me. 'Nuff said.

Tamron 17-35MM F/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF)

Review Date: Apr 11, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: • Cost • Range • Build
• Not at all suitable for full frame • Serious CA issues • Poor rendering of fine detail • Serious edge distortions on full frame

It's always difficult to impossible to know if one has gotten a less-than-stellar sample of a lens or if, in fact, this is the way the lens pretty much behaves in general.

I was looking for a cost-effective way to go wider than 20mm on my 5D when the situation required and decided to give this generally well-received Tamron 17-35 a try.

I found it to be riddled with problems and requested a return authorization the same day I received it.

I have no idea how it might perform on a crop camera, so I gave it a middle-of-the-road overall rating rather than a rating of "1", which is what I would give it if crop-cameras didn't exist.

Though designed for full frame, this is NOT an adequate full-frame lens. I wouldn't suggest anyone entertain that idea. If full-frame capability is what you need and you're looking to be cost-efficient, then for a couple of hundred dollars more find yourself a good, used Canon 17-40 and be done with it, which is exactly what I did.

Build quality is up to Tamron's usual high standards, and at f/8 between 20mm and 30mm, the lens does ok, but not great or even very good. Lots of CA; lots of distortion and smearing at the edges; an odd, cool color cast; an overall soft look at the edges no matter what. The center is sharp, but not as sharp as an average 17-40 or 16-35. Contrast is ok, but also not as good as the Canons. (You get what you pay for.)

Again, perhaps on a crop camera the whole story changes. I have no idea. The reviews suggest that might be the case. No matter what kind of camera you're going to put it on, if you're going to try this 17-35, purchase it from a reputable retailer who will let you exchange it or obtain a refund if things don't work out.

I have other Tamron lenses that perform superbly. To me, this one lens model seems like an oddball in Tamron's lens line-up. And, yes, maybe I got a really poor copy.

Nikon D40x

Review Date: Mar 27, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • IQ • Ease of use • Portability • Build quality • Metering • Color accuracy • Range of adjustments

I agree with Thom Hogan's assessment, who, when reviewing the Nikon D40 and D40x in the same breath, wrote: "State-of-the-art in 6 and 10MP cameras."

'Nuff said....

Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED AF

Review Date: Mar 26, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Sharp • Quick • Compact • Light • Nicely built

I purchased only two lenses when I first bought my D2x. One was the remarkable f/2.8 35-70. The other was this one, the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5.

I read many reviews and was hesitant to purchase it at first. Some of the reviews had severely downgraded the lens' performance wide open at any focal length, but particularly at the extremes. Many cited Tamron's 17-35 f/2.8-4 as a better buy. Most thought the lens' border performance was, well, downright bad.

I decided I wanted to put a Nikon on my Nikon, so I bought it anyway. I have no regrets. This lens has proved itself to be a stellar performer under 99% of the shooting conditions I find myself in. I have not found it to be significantly worse wide open compared to stopped down a bit. I do not find the build to be "less than average," and I have seen few instances of ghosting, flare, CA, etc. I have no complaints about the border sharpness.

The 18-35 is simply an excellent lens that I think is an excellent value for the money. It could be the sample-to-sample variations of this particular lens are just more extreme than usual; hence, the nature of some of the reviews.

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II DX AF-S

Review Date: Mar 26, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: • Sharpness • Color • Contrast • Vibration Reduction

These are comments about the VR version of this lens, which I've just received and intend to use with a D40x for travel purposes along with its tele-companion, the 55-200 VR. I tested the 18-55 VR, though, on my D2x.

The lens' optical quality is, in a word, excellent. For the price, it's remarkable, edge-to-edge. Hard to believe, actually.

The D2x is notoriously fussy about lenses and will show up any wrinkles, warts or other signs of mediocre glass. Well, I've viewed and viewed and viewed and compared the 18-55 to some of my best glass, including the excellent f/2.8 35-70. The worst thing I can report about the 18-55 is a bit of CA in very high contrast situations, but in an amount that's easily correctable in post-processing. Hey, I've got far more expensive lenses that generate CA in these situations!

The 18-55 VR appears to be at its best at f/5.6 to f/11 between about 20mm and 45mm. The extremes are quite acceptable if not very, very good; they're just not quite as crisp and defined as the middle territory (when viewed at 100%). I also compared it to my excellent 18-35 f/3.5-4.5. The 18-35 is ever-so-slightly sharper at 18mm and 25mm, has less tendency to lose small details in highlights, and color seems a tad more accurate, but that's about it. The 18-55 VR holds up quite well against this more than twice-as-costly lens.

I would not hesitate to keep the 18-55 VR in my D2x bag much less use it with the D40x. Highly, highly recommended.

Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8D AF

Review Date: Mar 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: • Super sharp • Excellent rendering of detail • Excellent color • Excellent contrast

I haven't owned my Nikon D2x for very long, and the 35-70 f/2.8 is the first lens I bought to use with it. I didn't want a lens that would limit or mask the D2x's potential.

I find the 35-70 to be as perfect a lens as there is. I do believe it surpasses any of the Canon lenses I own and use with my 5D ... and I own some pretty terrific Canon lenses.

Thought it's on the heavy side, I never hesitate to use the 35-70 f/2.8. That's because the results are always excellent. It's an utterly reliable lens and the only lens I've ever owned that is the equal of primes of the same focal lengths, ie 35mm, 50mm, 60mm & 70mm. Simply an outstanding lens.

Now the trick is find a wide-angle zoom and tele-zoom that are of equal quality without going broke.


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